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HBO to begin filming Game of Thrones in Belfast

US broadcaster HBO will begin filming epic fantasy adventure series Game of Thrones in Belfast this June.

The pilot has already been shot at locations around the city.

Another nine programmes based on the first book of George R R Martin's multi-volume A Song Of Fire And Ice series have been commissioned.

Filming has also taken place in Scotland and Morocco. It will star Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and Alfie Allen, the brother of pop star Lily Allen.

The makers hope each novel in the series will produce a season's worth of episodes.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “This announcement by HBO, a major player in TV production, is further evidence of what we have to offer.

“Local talent, business and supply capabilities are all to be focused upon in the delivery of such projects and this can be seen as both a sterling endorsement of these sectors and a significant boost to our economy and the burgeoning local film industry.”

HBO has run many popular programmes, including The Sopranos, Sex And The City and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Government estimates the series will generate £20m for the local economy.

A huge set was built in the Paint Hall studios in Belfast's docklands for the pilot.

Filming for the nine-part series is expected to last until the end of the year, with the show going to air next spring.

Hundreds of Northern Ireland-based cast and crew are set to work on the production, alongside local producer Mark Huffam.

Rich Hill, chairman of Northern Ireland Screen, which worked with HBO and Invest NI to bring the project to the region, said: “This is a real coup for Northern Ireland and further cements our reputation as a leading centre for film and television production.”

First Minister Peter Robinson also welcomed the news: “The growth of the film industry is an example of an innovative attitude to business in Northern Ireland.”

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